Equestrian team rides high despite hurdles

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with national equestrian team

Malaysia achieved its target of finishing at least fifth at the FEI Junior and Young Riders Endurance World Championships in Pisa, Italy, yesterday.

The team of Nur Qasrina Amani Abd Rahman, Muhammad Yusuf Luqman Abd Rahman, Muhammad Faris Haikal Mohd Hassan Sa’ari and Muhammad Aimin Azfar Nazulki, riding on borrowed horses, finished behind United Arab Emirates, Spain, Italy and Belgium.

Unlike the other teams, the Malaysian quartet had to use horses from Europe due to their familiarity with the course and weather. The loan was arranged by the team’s mentor, former world No. 1 equestrian rider Datuk Awang Kamaruddin Abdul Ghani.

Only the top three riders’ timings were taken into account for the team event with Muhammad Yusuf Luqman, Faris Haikal and Muhammad Aimin accumulating a total of 20 hours, three minutes and 33 seconds in the 120km race.

UAE finished top in 14’18:45s, followed by Spain (14’33:03s), Italy (16’44.59s) and Belgium (19’12:37s). Holland (20’04:51s), the United States (21’20:18s) and Sweden 23’27:12s) rounded up the top eight.

A total of 113 riders from 34 countries took part in the competition. The race was split into four phases with a veterinary inspection after each phase. The first inspection was after 40km. The second was after 77km, the third after 100km, and the final one at the end. The horses’ physical condition was examined at each phase and only those that passed the inspection were allowed to continue.

The Malaysian riders were initially sponsored by Benua Equestrian Stables and Nur Qasrina and Muhammad Yusuf Luqman’s parents, who forked out RM260,000 for the two qualifying races in France in July.

This time they had help from the Youth and Sports Ministry, three close friends and a company to fund the trip.

Fight for Change 2019

“This is our present to the nation for Malaysia Day,” said Suzanna Musakal, the mother of Nur Qasrina and Muhammad Yusuf Luqman.

“The team was inspired after meeting the prime minister (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) at his residence on Saturday. Tun is an equestrian enthusiast and he and his wife (Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali) gave them words of encouragement ahead of their journey.”

Dr Mahathir also presented the team with the Jalur Gemilang.